Well, we finally made it to November, one of the happiest months for budget-conscious shopping. Not surprisingly, many items hit their lowest price points this month around Black Friday. Ultimately though, November isn't the best time to buy everything, so make sure you peruse our guide to ensure that you steer clear of the duds this month.
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Cookware Items See Strong Deals
Rarely do "need" and "best time to buy" so perfectly coalesce. As you prepare to knock the socks off the in-laws this Thanksgiving with an impressive feast, you may discover that there are some holes in your arsenal of cookware. Luckily we saw double the number of Editors' Choice cookware deals in November last year, when compared to most other months. This trend for "best of the year" prices on cookware held steady through December. However November specifically sees the greatest number of cookware deals period: in 2012, there were 41% more deals in November than October. Get your mitts on cookware and cutlery sets, bakeware, small appliances, and more.
Look for Editors' Choice Tool and Hardware Deals
Winter in general is a good time to buy tools, but the Black Friday season sports particularly excellent prices. In fact, 30% of the tool deals during Black Friday were marked Editors' Choice last year, which is more than double the number from September and October. Keep an eye out for significant discounts on drills, wrenches, socket sets, tool storage, and more, from stores like Home Depot, Lowe's, Harbor Freight Tools, and Sears. However, be aware that many of these items may only be available for in-store pickup.
Just Say No to the iPad 2 (and Maybe the iPad Mini with Retina)
When Apple announced its new iPad lineup last month, many people were shocked to not only learn that the iPad 2 will live to see another day, but that it will continue to be priced at $399. That's also what it will cost to get the new iPad mini, which comes revved up with improved specs and a Retina screen. As it turns out though, resellers have been slashing the price on the newly-discontinued iPad 4 to $399 as well recently, and we expect that to continue. Given the fact that the iPad 4 is only a year old and features a Retina screen, the iPad 4 may offer a better value than both the iPad 2 and the iPad mini because it provides both the larger screen size and the high-end resolution.
But Say Yes to iPad 4 Deals and Apple Reseller Discounts
Given the above, we're recommending that Apple fans look for iPad 4 deals this month that hit around $399. This is a decent month for Apple products across the board though too, if you shop in the right place. Year after year, Apple takes 5% to 10% off iPads, iPods, MacBooks, and iMacs during the Apple Black Friday sale, however third-party merchants usually undercut Apple's small discounts with greater promotions. Expect resellers like Amazon, MacMall, and MacConnection to take up to 20% off or more a number of Apple products. Moreover, keep an eye out for potential iPhone deals this Black Friday.
Google Nexus 7 and Windows Tablets Are Primed for Promotions
Unfortunately, there haven't typically been a great wealth Black Friday tablet deals during the month of November because many of the other popular models are already so cheap; the Amazon Kindle Fire line, for example, can hardly get much cheaper, especially since the HD model now costs a mere $139. That said, there's a chance that the current-generation 16GB Google Nexus 7 will drop to $200, since it debuted at a higher price point this year. Additionally, we're predicting that Microsoft's Surface tablets might be primed for Black Friday promotions, since the first generation has already seen several price cuts this year. To date, the Microsoft Surface 32GB Windows RT Tablet has fallen to as low as $314, while the Pro has been as low as $699.
Current Season Apparel, the Good and the Bad
Last month we noted that winter season apparel items will likely see their greatest sales beginning in January. However, last year, a number of apparel stores offered their best online coupons of the year in the weeks leading up to (and around) Black Friday, and most stacked with existing sales and markdowns. So if you can't wait until the clearance sales in January, then the "best of the year" coupons during Black Friday will at least slash 30% to 50% off, with some reaching even higher discounts.
Time to Bargain for a Wedding Dress
According to the author of "Bridal Bargains," November and December are excellent months to shop for a wedding dress, because there's a decrease in demand during the holidays; women just aren't interested in shopping for a dress during this typically busy season, which means you have ample opportunity to bargain with the boutique — if you're willing to haggle, that is.
Candy That's Guilt-Free (Pricewise)
A sugary stock of candy will help keep many a shoppers' blood sugar up during the coming weeks of intense shopping, and luckily the best time to buy Halloween items, including candy, starts November 1. While it may be hard to get excited about a discounted costume you can't (acceptably) wear again until next year, you can easily stock up on Halloween candy for immediate consumption. Is a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup in the shape of a pumpkin any less delicious? We think not!
Tis Not Yet the Season for Toys
With all the holiday shopping you'll likely be doing at the end of this month, you may start to get overly confident and think, "I can save on toys for the kids, too!" However, the best time to get the greatest discounts on toys for the holidays is during the middle of the month, or the second week of December. That said, you'll still see Black Friday discounts of up to 50% for toys and up to 75% off video games, making the shopping holiday not too shabby if you'd rather get the kids' gifts settled early. Just keep in mind that the most significant price cuts on video games this year will be for older-generation consoles; at best we might see mild "buy one get one" offers for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One video game titles.
It's Time for Turkey!
This month, many grocery stores will offer a free turkey to shoppers who meet a minimum purchase, ranging from $200 to $400. While you certainly shouldn't increase your spending just to get one, many families can easily hit that minimum throughout the month, as several stores will allow shoppers to combine totals from several trips. Ask your local super markets what promotions they offer, and remember to save your receipts.
Now's the Time to Buy that 46" HDTV
Buyer beware: this month you'll be bombarded with HDTV deals. The majority of the deals will indeed be all-time lows, but stay vigilant as not every deal you come across will be worth your time. For instance, if you have your eyes set on a premium, name-brand HDTV, then November isn't your month. You're better off waiting until December, January, and early February when deals on these TVs are traditionally lower. This is due to the fact that 2014 TVs will be announced at the Consumer Electronics Show in early January, which causes retailers to clear inventory of 2013 TVs at the start of the new year.
So what should you look for in November? Off-brand TVs in the 42" to 55" categories will hit new lows. You'll most likely see the best value in the 46" to 55" range as 42" TVs can't possibly get any cheaper than they have in previous years, and 32" sets are usually cheaper in September. (For a rundown of prices, check out our Black Friday TV predictions here.)
So expect to see off-brand 46" and 47" sets in the $269 range and off-brand 55" sets in the $425 range. But keep in mind that off-brand 55" TVs will soon cost the same as name-brand 55" 3D HDTVs. Basically that means if you play your cards right, you could snag a 55" 3D name-brand TV will all the bells and whistles of a modern TV for almost the same price as an off-brand 55" TV, which typically has no added features.
Forget Haswell, Ivy Bridge Will Be on Fire
If there's one type of laptop you need to buy this month, it's an Ivy Bridge-based laptop. Now that Intel's Haswell processor has been out for quite some time, Ivy Bridge is ripe for the bargain bin. But unlike most bargain laptops, which choke at the mere mention of HD video, the majority of Ivy Bridge laptops still run smooth with enough power for anything you throw its way.
Price-wise, we predict that basic 15" Core i5 Ivy Bridge systems (with the standard 4GB of RAM and at least a 500GB hard drive) will drop to as low as $285 this month. By comparison, a Core i5 Haswell laptop will most likely cost at least $399.
If you just want a laptop with enough power for barebones tasks like basic web browsing, then look for AMD-based systems as they could drop even lower. A 15" quad-core AMD system, for example, could drop to $250 as it has already in both September and October of this year. Dual-core AMD systems have even hit $205 so far, and we expect these notebooks (along with Intel Celeron and Pentium systems) to drop to $170 this Black Friday.
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